The Tri-Cities Chinese Association will host its annual celebration Feb. 2 at First Christian Church on Mountcastle Drive. The festival is a time for families and friends to reunite and for newcomers to enjoy Chinese culture.
“Lunar New Year celebrates the beginning of a new year on the traditional Chinese calendar,” said Rongu Xu, the association’s president. “It was traditionally a time to honor deities as well as ancestors.”
The holiday is the largest of the year in Chinese culture and is celebrated worldwide. According to BBC News, Chinese New Year is the cause of the largest annual human migration, thanks to the journey home made by millions.
“The evening preceding Chinese New Year’s Day is frequently regarded as an occasion for Chinese families to gather for the annual reunion dinner,” Xu said. “This is similar to the western world Thanksgiving Holiday.”
This year is the Year of the Pig, the 12th sign in the Chinese Zodiac. Xu said, “The pig’s chubby face and big ears are signs of wealth, fortune and good luck.”
The Tri-Cities festival will include a Lion Dance by the Atlanta-based Chien Hong School of Kung Fu’s Lion Dance Troop. The group’s website says it is the longest continuously performing Lion Dance Troop in the Atlanta area.
The dance — in which performers dress in traditional costumes and mimic the movements of the lion — is to bring good luck and fortune.
Other attractions will include a talent show, an art and poster show and a traditional Chinese food demonstration. Festival attendees will have the opportunity to read and write Chinese calligraphy, play games involving chopsticks and learn about Chinese culture.
“We would like to be inclusive and welcome all people from various cultural backgrounds to our event,” said Xu. “Our goal is to contribute to the diversity in the Tri-Cities area.”
The lineup for the talent show will feature instrumental musical performances, singing, a traditional dance performed by Our China Angel and more. There will be Tai Chi demonstrations by a master and fun games in between shows. There will also be a Chinese art show featuring pieces from local families and original pieces created by members of the TCCA.
“The cultural significance of this festival is reunion and harmony,” said Xu. “It is also traditional for every family to thoroughly clean their house, in order to sweep away any ill fortune and to make way for incoming good luck.”
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Johnson City’s Asian population is 2.8 percent of an estimated population of just over 66,000.
The local event has grown larger in the past three to four years.
Xu said the festival was originally a few families coming together, but has grown much larger than that. They hope to attract hundreds to expand the understanding of Chinese culture for all Tri-Cities residents.